Tuesday, May 29, 2007

Anselmo Martinez has services ahead of cremation

ROBSTOWN — As Carlos Lara leaned against a wall outside St. Anthony’s Catholic Church on Monday, his face was expressionless, but his head was full of memories.

The church inside was packed with those paying respects to his cousin, Army Sgt. Anselmo Martinez III, who died May 18 serving in Iraq. Standing outside the church, Lara, 25, remembered his cousin as a joker who always wanted to hang out with friends, but who eventually settled down with a family and returned home a changed man after joining the military.

“When we had hung out before, it was like kid stuff. He was always looking for the next joke,” said Lara, a Corpus Christi resident. “But when he came back, he had become a man.”

Martinez, 26, and two other U.S. soldiers were killed May 18, after their armored vehicle ran over an improvised explosive device. He is the 20th area resident to die in Iraq or Afghanistan.

About 400 family, friends and community members filled the church; many were left standing in the church or spilling out of the front doors. Patriot Guard Riders of South Texas escorted Martinez’s casket to the church.

The common thread voiced by Martinez’s relatives in remembering him Monday was his selfless nature. Lara said part of his cousin’s decision to join the military was to have job security and be able to provide for his wife and two daughters.

“He was always willing to give himself up for everybody,” Lara said.

Cousin Monica Garcia said Martinez was like a big brother while they were attending Robstown High School. He graduated in 1998, a year before she did.

“He was a lot of fun to be around, and always thought about others before he thought about himself,” said Garcia, 26.

Martinez lived with wife Christina and daughters Felicity, 7, and Elianna, 5, in Fort Hood, before deploying in October with the 1st Cavalry Division.

As military pallbearers carried the casket to a waiting hearse, family members followed outside. His father, Anselmo Martinez Jr., shook hand after hand of friends and those who attended to show support. He put his arm around his wife, Diana, as she and other family members wept in each others’ arms.

Christina Martinez kept her eyes locked on her husband’s casket outside the church as she stood holding a folded American flag.

Martinez’s body will be cremated today, Army spokesperson Eric N. Atkinson said. His wife will keep his ashes.

From the Caller-Times

Related Link:
Anselmo Martinez III dies of 'wounds suffered when his unit came in contact with enemy forces using an improvised explosive device'